When I was ten or eleven, I had a couple of summer friends, sisters named Wanda and Brenda. Their mother, a stocky woman who wasn’t old enough to wear dentures but did anyway, would holler, “Wan-deeeee, Bren-deeee” so I called them that too. Wandy and Brendy’s house was full of ceramic figurines they called what-nots – I called them”what-not” to have. Ceramic cats, dogs, clowns, toadstools with frogs and pixies perched on the coffee and end tables, mantle, top of the TV. No horizontal surface was left uncovered.
Category: Fears Page 1 of 2
That lady called again – the one who sounds like she’s just finished smoking a couple cartons of cigarettes. She said I’m in trouble with the IRS. I didn’t quite get the reason because she won’t leave a complete message. The recording always starts mid-sentence, spoken with her deep, gravely voice: “…with the IRS. You need to call the tax center immediately to avoid additional penalties and possibly jail time. Call 515 837….”
Like every American, I’m terrified of the IRS. They have the power to bankrupt even famous people like Willy Nelson. Once I got a letter from them saying I’d made an error on a tax return I’d filled out three years before. They charged me nearly two hundred dollars in interest and penalties – the math error itself was only about thirty-nine bucks – but I’m not complaining (in case they’re reading this). I’m just happy I only had to pay three years worth of interest for them to get around to noticing the error.
I don’t mess with the IRS.
But here’s what I can’t understand. If they’re so powerful, and they’re really after me, can’t they at least leave a whole, intact message?
And why doesn’t the IRS have a 1-800 number to call back? They’re going to throw me in jail AND make me pay for the call?
Also, why is their agent always a woman with a low, threatening voice like she’s at some Mafia funeral – like she’s saying, “You better cooperate or you’ll be next on Guido’s list.” Can’t the IRS hire a regular person to terrify me?
It took a lot of guts for me to get up on stage last night at the open mike. I am the bravest coward I know. Once in high school a friend wrote a report and described a person who was afraid of everything. Someone else in the class said, “Hey, that’s your friend, Suzy!” Her report was about me, I found out later. I wasn’t afraid to bitch slap the friend who used me for her report, I’ll tell you that.
But seriously, do I use the words “bitch slap” too often? I actually look for places I can insert those words. Like above – I did not bitch slap my friend. I just never spoke to her again. Same thing, but, in my mind, it doesn’t sound as funny as bitch slap.
I am afraid of everything. I’m especially afraid I’ve written about this topic before, because every time I do something I can’t believe I had the nerve to do, I always want to tell everyone about it. Maybe I like to show that even though I’m timid and shy and a scaredy-cat, I’m not afraid to act, so you better not mess with me.
I have been in scary situations that people think I’m making up, but usually it’s because I have no other choice. When I’m doing something brave, my hands are shaking, my voice is shaking (if it shows up at all), and I’ve got “Sissy Girl” written all over me in my body language – fidgeting, crossed arms, shaking leg, slouching – I’ve got ‘em all. If I don’t, it’s because I remembered reading that these were signs of fear and I try to counteract them. Here’s a site that has some of them if you are nodding your head right now and thinking, “hmmm, I do that stuff all the time…” www.ehow.com/how_2383301_read-fear-body-language.html
My biggest fear, however, is that fear itself will keep me from doing something. Like going onstage. I sat there trying to talk myself out of it, but in the end I knew I had nothing to lose except pride, reputation, a few years of my life from a heart attack, and my mind. Down at the heart of it, though, fear alone was the only reason for me not to go onstage.
I battle that day and night – whether new people will like me at a party (they seem to, but I’m ALWAYS afraid they won’t), whether people will read this blog (I have a bunch of site members, but there’s a constant fear that I may lose my sense of humor), whether I will trip and fall on my face, say something stupid, hurt someone’s feelings, forget an appointment, do something embarrassing – you name it, I’m afraid of it.
But I keep saying to myself, “Just keep on doing it. Just show up. Just try. Just do damage control if you have to.” And sometimes I say, “Just shut the F up,” when my fears are on the verge of completely derailing me.
Right now, for instance, I’m afraid it’s not okay for me to reveal my fears in public. But you know what I say to that? Screw it. I’ve got to frickin’ post something and this is already written, so screw it. I’m doin’ it!
I was walking my dog on some wooded trails near my house when I passed a creepy guy. I’d been deep in thought, probably day dreaming about the cookies I’d made and how I wished I had stuck a few in my pocket. I wasn’t thinking about being alone out there with my 9-pound dog, who, as far as protection goes, would have about the same effect as being pinched by a toddler if she chomped down on an attacker.
Hair started rising on my arms, and I was getting that prickly feeling on the back of my neck. I nonchalantly quickened my pace while I thought about worst-case scenarios. He could have turned around and was now following me, and would soon close the gap between us. It was a cold, cloudy, ugly, miserable day and we were probably the only souls in that million-acre park with nothing but lonesome trees to hear my screams.
I was getting frantic. I couldn’t outrun him, or outfight him. I had to make myself unappealing to him, but how? And then I came up with a brilliant plan. I started talking to the dog.
“I can’t believe I got cooties,” I said loudly, as if the dog was deaf. “I itch all over.” I feverishly scratched my head. “This is the most stubborn case I’ve ever had. They’re everywhere.”
To prove it, I extended the scratching to my arms and back. “I sure hope you don’t get the cooties from me. You think fleas are bad, they’re nothing compared to these cooties. They get in your hair and all over your bedding. It’s almost impossible to get rid of ’em.” Then I let out an exasperated shout, “Oh I HATE these cooties.”
I got the idea about talking out loud from hiking in grassy areas where snakes could be lurking.
“Listen here, snakes,” I say. “I’m a big, mean, snake-stomping machine and you had better crawl out of my path unless you want your eyeballs to squirt out of your head when I come down on you with my size 11 shoe. You better get on down the road and don’t look back or I’ll flatten you into a snakeskin belt. You better take your rattling behind on out of here or I’ll twist it off and give it to a baby for a play pretty. You better…” and so on.
I jabbered about the cooties for about fifteen more minutes, scratching like a flea-infested orangutan in a kid’s movie, not daring to look back or slow down. Finally I came up to the road. Only then did I turn and see an absolutely empty path.
“We scared him away,” I told my dog. She looked up at me and said, “I’ve been itching like crazy this whole time with all this talk. You better NOT give me the cooties or I will rain down an unholy ocean of barfing and diarrhea all over the house.”
She may be little, but I don’t doubt that she could do it. I had to explain what I was doing on the way up our street.
Yes the neighbors think I’m crazy, but I’m still here to tell about the close call I had today. I might be crazy, but crazy like a fox. No?
I like to read my horoscope. It’s frustrating, though, because I want something specific. If I’m going on a trip, I want it to say, “You will have a safe trip and your luggage will arrive on time.” Usually all I get is some random words strung together that could mean anything at all.
Lately the horoscope person has taken to posting sage advice. Perhaps she moonlights as a writer of fortune cookies and confuse what she’s supposed to be doing. I’m getting advice like, “No one likes a stick in the mud. You must always allow a little wiggle room.”
What does this mean? That I should be more lenient with my kids? That I should not try to do everything perfectly? That I should go dancing?
Today I had a unique horoscope. It said that Saturn and Uranus are in a fight in the sky so I shouldn’t try to start anything for several days. Honest, that’s what it said.
First of all, you can’t think of the name of that particular little planet without laughing. And to think that it’s up there in the sky picking a fight with Saturn makes it all the more funnier.
Let me clarify this. My horoscope said they were at odds with each other. That’s the same thing as a fight, right? Are they getting in a shoving match? Are they calling each other names?
Uranus: “You’re just a big rock surrounded by a bunch of dirty rings.”
Saturn: “Well you’re such a little pebble they don’t even think you’re a real planet.”
Uranus: “Why are you such a jerk?”
Saturn: “You calling me a jerk? You’re the one who started it.”
Uranus: “Did not.”
Saturn: “Did too.”
Uranus: “Well, you are surrounded with dirty rings, so there.”
Saturn: “At least I’m not an asshole.”
Almost as amusing as these two squabbling is the statement that I’m not supposed to start ANY activity. Does that mean I should not shower, walk the dog, or go grocery shopping? Aren’t these all considered activities?
I’m going to cut this out of the paper and show it to my husband. “Look, I can’t do the laundry for several days. You’re on your own.” And, “don’t even think about waking me up at 2 am wanting some activity. You know what my horoscope said.”
Thinking of horoscopes makes me think about the mirror I broke two days ago. I’m supposed to have 7 years of bad luck. In an heroic effort to counteract that, I’ve avoided black cats and ladders. Plus I’ve picked up several filthy coins off the street.
I was at my daughter’s track meet this evening (she pole vaulted 9 feet!!!!), and a girl dropped some change on the bleachers. The bouncing coins made loud clanging noises that was music to my ears because I figured I’d redeem some of that seven years with a couple of lucky coins (“find a coin and pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck”). I thought that girl wouldn’t bother picking them up because she was so embarrassed. But she soon recovered and said to her friends, “I’ve got to pick all of it up or I’ll have bad luck.”
So much for good luck for me. That darned mirror is probably why my planets are pulling each other’s hair and shooting spit wads at each other through space. And why I’ve got to avoid activity like shopping and getting a pedicure. It’s going to be a long seven years.
I always type my titles last, and the one tonight could be names for two rock bands. Yes, I stole that idea from Dave Barry. Sue me.
I was working late tonight in my home office and my husband was asleep on the couch where he usually is from about 7:00 on, and the TV was blaring on some gruesome History channel thing about cutting people’s legs and arms off. They showed these awful saws that the doctors used, saying how they had to briskly saw back and forth because it was hard to keep the patient still, even with two assistants holding the poor guy down. Ghastly. I can see the TV from my desk and even knowing I’d have nightmares, I couldn’t resist looking, which only served to disturb me.
I was too engrossed in what I was doing to go in and turn the hideous spectacle off at first, but finally I couldn’t take anymore. I turned it to Comedy Central thinking I could get subliminally inspired for tonight’s post by listening to jokes.
A show came on that was such an abomination I shudder to think this is the stuff my son is watching. I knew he is the target audience because it was an extremely trashy cartoon with the cartoon characters, trashing sketches of guys, saying stuff I didn’t think they allowed on TV. The plot was a teacher trying to teach boys not to have sex with hundreds of women. There may have been zombies involved, I kept hearing that word. The job of the teacher in this episode was to say the words, “…have sex with hundreds of women…” as many ways as he possibly could in one TV show. I think he broke his own record. Everything anyone said at any time was answered with something like, “We have to cure you so you won’t want to have sex with hundreds of women.”
Again, I was too engrossed in what I was doing to get up. My company is putting in a bid to do a huge solar project, and I’m designing the bid. I worked 16 hours today – mostly because I’m slow and meticulous (and make mistakes). I got ‘er done, though, but not without orofactory torture (that’s ear torture and Word is telling me it’s misspelled but I’m not looking it up this late at night).
The next show that came on was a stand up comedy show with this raunchy comedienne who may or may not have been funny. The audience was laughing, so I guess he was, but we viewers at home heard this: “And then the beep beeper said get your sorry beep beep beep the beep out of here or else I’ll knock the beep out of you with a beeping baseball bat after I ram it the beep up your beep.”
Do you know how annoying it is to hear all that high-pitched beeping when you’re exhausted? I’ll tell you how annoying it is. After about three minutes I had had it. I marched right in and turned off the TV, which startled my husband awake because I grabbed the remote, which he was not holding – but he has remote radar. If anyone touches the remote and he’s in another room he comes out flying and snatches it.
“Why’d you turn that off, I was watching that!”
“How come you were snoring?”
“I wasn’t snoring. I told you I don’t snore.”
I’m going to go to bed and put my earplugs in because I love having a wad of memory foam in my ears all night long, and dream of beeping rusty saws. Shiver!
Does anyone except me have performance anxiety? Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about not being able to do things as well when someone is watching. I noticed this first when I tried to play piano at a recital. Even though I knew the piece backwards and forward because it was something very simple like chopsticks, when I got up in front of everyone my mind was blank as a dumb blond’s face.
Actually I was going to say: “As blank as a piece of notebook paper,” but then I decided that was a cliché. So I wondered what else was blank, and I thought of a blond girl I knew who used to stare off into space. That seemed to fit – I just added the “dumb” part because it seemed funnier.
Back to my recital. So I came up blank, and my teacher whispered, “D, then C.” He might as well have been saying @%#$ and &*%@# because I didn’t have a brain left to think. It had turned to liquid and was flowing under my shirt down to my ankles. My fingers were dis-attached from my body. I was frozen in time and space, except the time was passing very very slowly. I felt my classmates staring at me, waiting for the show to begin. I saw them start to squirm and look around. Still the fingers didn’t move. “Would you like to do your recital later,” I heard my teacher say in the distance. “Yes,” I said, like I was grabbing a lifeline.
Later came after the next person. By then I had rehearsed again and willed myself to perform, which I did, though I was miserable.
I decided that I was not cut out to be a concert pianist since I couldn’t perform. After that I started noticing a certain self-consciousness whenever people were watching.
A couple of nights ago I had a strange dream. I dreamed I was out in the woods taking pictures with my digital camera. I was capturing some gorgeous shots of flowers and honeybees when a school popped up that had a beautiful candy counter with exotic candies. I started taking pictures of them, getting some great shots, then President and Mrs. Obama drove up in a limo. The school authorities and colorfully clad children surrounded them, and I took pictures of that. Suddenly, Obama saw me and said, “Will you please get some pictures of me and the girls and candy?” I was astounded, even in my dream. But from that moment on, I could not take another picture. The lens fell off my camera. I pushed buttons that didn’t respond. I dropped the camera on the ground.
It’s pretty crazy when a person’s anxieties creep right into their dreams. Of course I was embarrassed to death because of all my fumbling. Finally the Obama’s went on their way, and I was left with no pictures, a broken camera and a broken heart.
I’ve decided I don’t care what people think. I’m going to do my best in spite of them watching. I’ll keep you posted about my success.
This morning as I was racing across my bedroom from the shower to get to my closet, an idea popped into my head. You know those TV shows where the police break down someone’s door, their guns held out in front of them with both hands, as they yell, “FREEZE!!!!” Then they go through the house while dopers and greasers and thugs cower until one of the bad guys reaches for a gun and bullets start flying.
The residents of these places are drug dealers and murderers and other assorted no goods who expect the police to crash down their door at any minute.
Then you read in Reader’s Digest and other highly entertaining and informative journals about the police busting into a house with an elderly woman sitting there knitting who grabs her heart and has to be whisked off to the hospital because the police wrote the number down backwards or got the wrong street.
This seems to happen all the time. So as I was darting across the room in my birthday suit today, the thought crossed my mind: What if the police suddenly appeared at my bedroom door with their guns pointing at me and said, “FREEZE!!!”
Would I dive for cover because I was so embarrassed to be seen naked, risking my very life because I can’t manage to lose those extra few pounds that I don’t want anyone to see with the lights on?
What if I just stood there, naked as a Chihuahua? What would they do? Would they cuff me and drag me out into the street bare assed? Would they let me get a robe? Would they make fun of me? “Geeze, lady, how come you’ve let yourself go to fat? Hey Jack, come here and check this out. This woman’s got more dimples than a room full of babies. Ha Ha Ha!”
You never see these people who get busted on TV doing anything except sitting around the living room or running toward the back of the house. They’re fully clothed. On TV, the police never have to chase naked people around the house.
Then I had an even worse thought. What if I was on the toilet and they busted in? What if it was Number Two? What if they didn’t want to take any chances that I might run so they tried to cuff me right there? “Geeze, lady, what crawled up in you and died? I’m suffocating in here.”
“Please Mr. Nice Policeman, can I wipe before I go?”
“Aaaawgh, I gotta get out of here. Yeah, go ahead but don’t try any funny business. Ha Ha, Ha! Funny BUSINESS, get it?”
Then I thought: what if a couple were enjoying a little marital bliss on the dining room table and the police busted into the room. What would the husband do? “Officer, can you give me just 20 more seconds and I’ll go quietly?” And the wife? “Can you at least turn your heads? People got no manners these days.”
I entertained myself most of the morning with these scenarios. I don’t want anyone to get the impression that I might be subject to a sting by the local law enforcement authorities, because to the best of my knowledge I haven’t broken any laws warranting a door getting busted in. But if we’re to believe Readers Digest, then this could happen to any of us at any time. I thought about being constipated, and how a bust-in would work way better than X-Lax. If you have any funny scenarios, please share them.
I wrote about perpetual elections yesterday. Today they had an article in the paper explaining Measures 66 and 67. Basically, if you’re making $120,000 as a single person or $250,000 as a family, you’re pretty darned lucky, in my book.
However, if Measure 66 passes, you’ll end up paying – up to – a few hundred dollars more in taxes each year. In other words, you won’t be able to get your Lexus detailed as often.
That’s the heartbreak of taxes. And just what are you going to get for those extra hundreds you have to cough up? The promise of better schools and health care for the lowly. Ho-hum.
People in this income bracket generally have plenty of health insurance and their kids are in private schools. There’s nothing in it for them. No wonder they fight upper crust tax increases like cornered badgers.
Every wealthy person I’ve ever talked to is totally against taxes aimed at them, and they say it’s for one reason. They don’t like giving their hard earned money to pond scum who will just milk the system.
Now there’s something we all agree on. Don’t you just despise those people you hear about all the time who take total advantage of our government? You know the ones I’m talking about. The low lifes who hide money in overseas accounts, who know the tax codes and every trick to get deductions, people who entertain and travel lavishly and write it all off as business expenses – these are the kinds of people who sponge off the government without a care about how it affects honest, hard-working Americas like you and me. Oh wait, that’s the rich folks doing all that. I get so confused sometimes.
If we could put all the money the rich finagle the country out of because of the tax structure in one pile, and all the money the poor get in food stamps and welfare and subsidized health care, I wonder which would be bigger?
I’m preoccupied by these measures because of the phone calls I continue to receive trying to coerce me into voting against them. The callers, who all sound well educated and refined, are getting desperate. Today a perky lady called and wanted to speak to my husband. When I said he was at work, she wanted to know if he’d voted yet. I didn’t know. Is he going to vote against the measure, she wondered. I didn’t know that, either. Well, would I be so kind as to remind him? I told her he doesn’t ever listen to me. She chortled and complimented me on how funny I am, then asked my permission to call back when he might be home.
I was exhausted by the time I got off the phone. And then it rang again.
This robbing from the rich to help the poor is no new thing. Remember Robin Hood? I’ve seen the movie and those poor people remind me of the poor today. Sure, they’d waste some of the money if they had it, but maybe that’s because they don’t know any better. The wealthy sure waste a ton of money that could benefit us all on the silliest things.
All I know is that if you call me tomorrow, I’m not answering. Some day we’ll all look back on this and ram into a parked car.
I’ve gotten to where I’m afraid to answer the phone. In my office I don’t have caller ID, so I don’t know I’m about to get a sucker punch until I hear the pause on the line, then a nasally voice says, “Is Mr. or Mrs. So and So at home?” You know good and well that it’s not a friend or family member because they’d know you were home when you answered the phone. To toy with them I say, “This is Mr. So and So.” They stutter and then, like the polished actors they are, get right back to the script and start telling you, in earnest, that this is NOT a sales call. They simply have a small survey that will only take a few seconds, and could you please tell them if you have a heater in your house (no), does it have an air filter (yes), does anyone in your house have asthma or allergies (no), what is your age group (infant), are you working (get serious), how many children are living in the house (two dozen, I think. I’ve lost count).
Then they tell you that, based on your preposterous answers, you’ve qualified for a free in-home consultation at absolutely no obligation to you, it’s a free service they’re offering to people in your neighborhood because you’re special and they happened to be right down the street doing something important and can just drop in, say on Tuesday, or Wednesday if that would work better.
Do people really fall for this? Because I can tell you this, if you let them come to your house, they’ll convince you to buy some air filtration system that costs more than the crown jewels and, when it’s all said and done, you won’t notice you’ve got it, though you’ll try to convince yourself it’s working and saving doctor bills and removing dust in your home, though dust is like air – it goes where it wants to go and doesn’t need to consult you if it wants to lay in a grey film over everything you own, air filter or no air filter.
Sometimes I get calls from people wanting to give me an amazing vacation package to some new resort, but I have to bring my husband, and we have to sit through a ninety-minute sales pitch to buy a time-share, though they don’t put it that way. They say they just want to make sure we’re aware of all the amenities, which they list in exceptionally cheery tones.
I’ve been on a couple of these and they aren’t so bad, really, until the sales person takes you in the little room and tells you he’s not going to try and sell you on the place because it’s really the best deal on the planet so you’d be very wise to get in on it now because prices will go up and they’re running a special offer TODAY ONLY. After you say about forty no thank-you’s, the manager comes in just to make absolutely sure you know how stupid you are for passing up this once in a lifetime deal. You have to agree out loud that you are stupid before they’ll turn you lose, but it’s worth it.
So I’ve pretty much given up answering the phone. I let the machine take the call and then call people back who aren’t hustling me for something. I figure I save about two hours a day doing this, and my wallet can breathe easier, even if I won’t be able to until I buy the gold-plated filter. Personally, I get along just fine with dust.